If you're involved in a car accident, you should always call the police and obtain a copy of the police report, no matter how serious the crash is. Even if you think it was only a minor rear-end collision with little property damage and you don't believe you were hurt, you should call 911.
Why is this so important? You may have experienced something more serious that's not always apparent beyond the surface, such as traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries, or internal bleeding. These conditions often take days or longer to reveal symptoms. The damage to your vehicle might also be more than it initially appears, and so the repair costs are higher.
When you file your claim with the negligent driver's insurance company, having a police report can help you reach a fair settlement with them, because there's a direct correlation between your injuries, the vehicle damage, and the incident.
Helpful Information the Police Report Contains
The police are trained in how to investigate an auto accident. When they arrive, they'll secure the scene and investigate the details about the collision and how it occurred, then write a report.
This report can contain helpful information and lead to other evidence that helps prove fault for the incident.
Police reports outline:
- Collision details. This includes the date, time, and location of the crash and a description of the vehicles involved. There's usually a summary of how the crash occurred and who was at fault in causing it based on the law, as well as weather and road conditions.
- Contact information. If you're not able to get driver and witness contact details, the police report will have them. The responding officer will also get insurance data from the driver and, if the driver isn't the car's owner, the report will include the actual owner's information as well.
- Driver statements. One of the first steps the officer will take is to interview all drivers involved in the accident. The police report includes a summary of what they said, which can be helpful if the at-fault driver made incriminating statements.
- Witness statements. The police also interview eyewitnesses to the accident and summarize their statements. Witnesses who corroborate the other motorist's negligence in causing your wreck can be extremely helpful in your case.
- Vehicle damage. The officer examines the crash scene and describes vehicle damage. This might include a diagram of the scene and the point of impact where the vehicles collided. If who was at fault is in dispute, this information can help prove the cause of your wreck.
- Injuries. The police report also notes whether anyone was injured in the crash and if medical assistance was called to the scene.
- Citations. The officer's notes include whether any driver was issued a traffic citation and for what reason.
Three Ways a Police Report Helps Your Insurance Claim
Although the police report isn't admissible in court for legal reasons, it can still be extremely useful when you file an accident and injury claim.
- When you file, an insurance adjuster reviews the police report as part of his investigation into the insurance company's liability to pay you. If the police report is detailed and the officer clearly concluded that the other driver was at fault, this could help convince the adjuster not to dispute the cause of your crash.
- The police report provides leads to other evidence that help a skilled car accident attorney build a strong case against the negligent driver for you. For example, he may contact witnesses for more detailed statements before they move or their memories of what happened fade.
- While the police report can't be used in court, the police officer can testify in your trial and would rely on the information in the report for his account. His testimony may be very persuasive in convincing the jury that the other driver was the negligent party.
If you or a family member was injured in a car accident in the San Diego area or Southern California, take advantage of my offer of a free consultation to learn how I can assist you. I handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you won't owe any attorney fees until I settle your claim. Call my office today to schedule your appointment.